(Reuters) – A U.S. Navy veteran from Utah was charged on Friday with five federal felony counts stemming from a ricin threat targeting President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary James Mattis, FBI chief Christopher Wray and a high-ranking naval admiral.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, accuses William Clyde Allen III with threatening to use the deadly poison ricin as a weapon in letters he sent addressed to Trump and the others nearly two weeks ago.
Allen was arrested on Wednesday at his home in Logan, Utah, about 83 miles north of Salt Lake City.
A probable cause statement filed in the case said that Allen has confessed to sending the letters, which authorities said were intercepted before reaching any of the intended recipients. No one was hurt by the envelopes.
Though the envelopes were initially believed to contain ricin, they were found to contain only ground castor seeds, which are harmless but are the chief natural ingredient for ricin.
Amounts of ricin as small as a pinhead can cause death in people within 36 to 72 hours of exposure. There is no known antidote. It takes a deliberate act to convert the castor seeds into a biological weapon.
The criminal complaint charges that Allen sent the envelopes on or about Sept. 24 to Trump, Mattis, Wray and Admiral John Richardson, the chief of Naval Operations.
It was not immediately clear if Allen has obtained an attorney. He was ordered held in lieu of a $25,000 bond.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Susan Thomas and Leslie Adler)